Cape Blanco Oregon is a pretty nice place to wake up, a little bit cool and foggy but very nice. Nothing an early morning campfire can’t cure.
We decided to spend the morning at Cape Blanco and go for a hike to the lighthouse. Before a big hike you need a big breakfast, Connie was on chef duty this morning.
Of course when traveling on a road trip with a baby you need to factor in time for naps. Archer loved the Volkswagen Westfalia and was quick to nap on the comfy bed before our hike.
We hiked to the lighthouse and back which is about 2km each way. We took the trails through the park on the way there and on the way back we walked down the beach. We had the whole beach to ourselves so our Portuguese Water Dog Zucca got to run off leash and burn off some energy. Some pictures of Cape Blanco…
We had a great time in Oregon, now off to California. We had our first bout of bad luck when we got to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, the park was sold out so we had to stay at Hiouchi RV Resort down the road. Hiouchi is a pretty plain park with not much to review, at least they had wifi…in some spots. Sleep
Loved the Historic Anchor Inn! Such a fun place with nice owners and it even included a real breakfast for the $89 a night rate. Our server was super nice and even brought in peaches from her tree at home to included in our breakfast.
After breakfast and a lazy start we were on the road to Cape Blano Oregon. We chose Cape Blanco based on advice from some fellow Westfalia owners on TheSamba.com a website forum dedicated classic Volkswagens. Since Cape Blanco is a first come first serve campsite we decided to head straight there and try and snag a spot. We did make a quick stop in Newport Oregon at Rogue brewing, unfortunately there’s nothing exciting to report.
Blah blah blah beautiful scenery blah blah Oregon is amazing. Since picking up Archer and Connie this was the longest drive day so far, arriving in Cape Blanco in about 5 hours.
We managed to get a good spot across from the entrance to one of the Cape Blanco walking trails. We set up the Westfalia and got started on dinner. I think I have mentioned the Primus Firehole a few times but haven’t mentioned the MSR Flex-4 System cook set, it’s been awesome and saves a lot of room in the VW camper. We used them both and cooked up some tasty vittles before a camp fire and bed.
Another shameless product plug is the Phil and Ted’s Lobster seat that archer is sitting in (below) attached to a picnic table. This thing is super solid and fits every table we tried it on not to mention it packs down flat taking up little space in the Westfalia camper van. It’s a must for traveling parents with a baby or toddler on a road trip.
We got a good nights sleep considering we stayed in a parking lot at the Cannon Beach RV Resort. The laundry facilities were handy and we’re starting off the day with a Westfalia full of clean clothes.
The drive down the coast in Oregon is beautiful but unlike California the road doesn’t always follow right along the coast line. We headed south towards Tillamook arriving in a little over an hour at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. This place is a tourist attraction in it’s truest form and they have done a great job at it. We had some tasty cheese, took some pictures in their VW bus display and ended it off with some delicious ice cream.
After filling up on dairy products we bought a souvenir Tillamook VW bus and some handy individual packages of Tillamook cheddar for the fridge. Back on the Highway 1 we headed south into Tilamook to search for a barber shop to get a much needed shave. We stumbled upon a cool looking place called Bob’s Barber Shop and thankfully Bob could fit me in. This is a great spot that I would recommend if you’re heading south down the Oregon Coast.
Next stop just south of Tillamook was the Tillamook Air Museum which is housed in a very impressive building originally constructed as a base for Military Air Ships (Blimps). This structure is the largest wooden building in America and it really is a must see if you’re in the area. The planes in the Museum are interesting but for me the building stole the show, it’s huge!
Our next stop was Pacific City for lunch at Pelican Pub & Brewery. The restaurant is located right on the beach so after lunch we had a chance to take Zucca and Archer to the beach for first time on the trip.
Letting a baby and dog play in the water and sand made for a pretty good mess in the Westfalia.
Before we left for the trip Archer just started walking at 11 months. His confidence is increasing very quickly and he has already started climbing around the van. Gotta keep a close eye on the baby.
We hoped to stay in Pacific City but the local accommodations didn’t work for us so we headed south. It was getting a little late and Archer was getting a little fussy so we decided to pull into the next place we saw. Well they didn’t allow dogs so we went to the next, next place which turned out to be awesome luck. The Historic Anchor Inn was one of the most unique hotels we’ve ever seen and it’s a must stay if traveling in the area. Check out their gallery to get the vibe. This was a fantastic day, time for rest.
Voodoo Doughnuts!!! Never mind whatever happened in the morning let’s just skip ahead to Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland Oregon. The first I heard about Voodoo was when Rogue brewing released their Voodoo Maple Bacon Ale and it was a must stop on this road trip.
Well, Voodoo lived up to it’s reputation for being busy and at 11am on a weekday was lined up down the street. After waiting 20 minutes we finally got to the counter and it was a seriously tough decision to pick only 6. We sat on the patio and ate 4 of the 6 before checking out the city. Yes they’re Awesome!
In my younger days I spent many hours playing Tony Hawks Pro Skater on Playstation. One of the levels on the game was a place called Burnside which is in Portland Oregon, this was another on my list of places to see. Well the game was pretty generous in it’s portrayal of the size of Burnside, it turns out that it’s pretty small and not a whole lot to see. Oh well, off to the Coast.
We headed out to Cannon Beach Oregon to start our trip down the coast to California in the Westfalia. Cannon Beach is a beautiful little tourist town that turned out to be very busy and had very little accommodations available. We ended up “dry camping” in our VW camper at the Cannon Beach RV Park. Dry camping means a spot with no hook ups for power or water, it also meant we paid $20 to camp in a parking lot. It turned out to be a bit of a blessing since we go free wifi, access to laundry machines and all the other facilities. A well spent $20 considering the other option was a $300 for a dog friendly hotel room.
What a great nights sleep! As mentioned yesterday we stayed at a friends property which had a seemingly endless supply of apples and blackberries. Granola and fresh fruit for breakfast, delicious!
To catch the Ferry to Seattle we headed to Downtown Bainbridge. We had an hour to burn before heading to the Ferry so we stopped at the Blackbird Bakery for a bite and did a little bit of shopping. We really liked this town, it’s on our list of places to return to.
As seems to be par for the coarse we almost missed the Ferry and were the last ones to ssqueeze on. Off to Seattle!
The Ferry docked close to Pike’s Market so we headed straight there to check that off the list. One place that was kind of cool was RGB (Rachel’s Ginger Beer) which had just opened a store in the Market. Since I’m in the craft beer industry it was interesting to check out a craft soda company. Should also note they do serve the sodas with booze in them too.
We decided not to stay the night in Seattle and start heading towards Portland. We put a bunch of miles on using the freeway and it was freeway boring. We ended up camping about an hour from Portland at Millersylvania State Park, really that’s it’s name. The park was nothing special but did have a lake and some hiking trails, it seems like a place used by people not wanting to travel to far to camp.
We went for a walk and then fired up the camp stove for some vegetarian chilli before cleaning up and hitting the hay.
Started the morning with baby Archer in our bed again, cozy. The problem when camping with a baby arises in the middle of the night when your little one wakes up crying. We would usually wait it out a little at home but at a camp site your baby crying can be heard a few sites away, so to quite him down we bring him to us and usually fall asleep before he does. It’s a good little scam he’s got going.
The temperature at night was perfect for a good nights sleep and we arose to a beautiful morning at Goldstream Provincial Park. Breakfast on the Primus camp-stove this morning was Pancakes, mmm pancakes. Connie pre-measured some mix in Ziploc bags and actually wrote the directions on the bags, pretty clever that one is. It’s a great space reducer compared to traveling with a box of mix that you’ll only use a quarter of.
After packing up we headed into Victoria to meet the nice couple that I bought the Vanagon Westfalia from. They had for got their garage door opener on the visor so I figured they would like it back and it would be fun to see their old Westy.
By the time we made it to meet them we only had a few minutes to chat before rushing out to catch the MV Coho ferry to Washington. We got there with no time to spare, we literally held up the boat while they ran us through customs and squeezed us into the last spot. Karma!
Sailing on the MV Coho was great, unlike a lot of the Ferry’s the Coho allows dogs onto the main decks so our Portuguese Water Dog Zucca didn’t have to stay in the car for the ride. We had lunch on the Ferry and took in the beautiful views as we crossed into America. Feels weird to be completing the Canada part of our road trip, time is flying.
We had no problems with clearing customs with a dog and a baby until they found out we had groceries on board. We had to pull over as a guy went through every food item in the van and confiscated various things. Not only did he take fruit and vegetables but packaged products and our dog food. Weird.
From the Coho Ferry terminal in Port Angeles Washington it was a short drive to one of the entrances at Olympic National Park. We headed up the road to Hurricane ridge which was the unfortunately the only thing we had planned for Olympic park. The drive up the mountain is beautiful but some of the corners are downright scary for someone who doesn’t like heights. By the time we got to the top our Westfalia was exhausted so we decided to take in the scenery and gift shop, love those gift shops.
It was beautiful and the wildlife is so tame they walk only feet away from you. It is definitely worth the drive up. Yes the ride down was more nerve racking, remember the comment about Vanagons brakes a couple of days ago.
After leaving the Port Angeles area we set our sites on Bainbridge Island. When I was looking for our VW Westfalia I joined a mailing list for owners of Vanagons to see if anyone could help me find one. A gentleman from Bainbridge Island reached out to me that was originally from Ontario offering to help if he could. We kept in touch and he offered us a place to camp if we happened to travel through his area. Well it turns out our road trip was going right by his place, sometimes things just work out.
Their property turned out to be 2 beautiful acres near the water and only 10 minutes from the Ferry to Seattle. They turned out to be wonderful people and we chatted for a while before we set up the camper and turned in for the night. This is the most peaceful place we have stayed in the Westfalia yet. Zzzzzz
Guest Post– My wife connie wrote this months ago but I back burnered my blog so it never got posted, better late than never:
I can’t believe I said yes.
I can’t believe that I agreed to travel 5,000km with a newborn.
Am I crazy?
Every mom in my mommy group thought so.
My husband is great at trying new things and pushing me out of my comfort zone so that I enjoy “new experiences”. Leading up to these events though, I am always uncertain, asking questions for weeks and days leading up to the event until I believe that I have covered every single angle of what to expect and have assessed contingency plans for every possible outcome when things change.
When we found out we were pregnant, the first (or second) question from the in-laws was, “Are you still coming to Florida for Christmas?” Knowing the little guy was only going to be three months old, I answered, “We’ll see,” and I maintained this answer throughout our pregnancy. But somewhere between the sleep deprivation and the acceptance of so much help within the first two months, the “We’ll see” turned into “Sure”. How could I break the heart of the woman who helped me get back on my feet, picking up groceries, making food, holding our son after feedings so that I could get as much sleep as possible? I could go on & on with all the ways she helped. So we began to plan our journey.
We monitored the impending weather along our route and guesstimated how long it would take us with a three month old who needs to eat every three hours. I repeat, every three hours. Oh, did I mention that we have a dog too?
The evening prior to our departure I started to panic. What on earth was I thinking agreeing to this??! He’s so little. It’s too long to be in the car. He’s going to get a flat head from sitting too long in a car seat. And I had just successfully gotten him on a sleeping schedule. I was about to through it all out the window. I was worried – had those motherly instincts I kept hearing about finally start to kick in?? Memories of someone telling me that they were told by the hospital when discharged to not leave a baby in a car seat longer than an hour and a half occupied my brain. I googled a British study that identified that flathead can trigger vision problems. I took photos of his head from both sides so I could compare upon our return.
The panic continued into the morning but as my husband explained, the plans had already been set so the show must go on. We hit the road. First stop, Windsor. It was cold, it was dark, and we were parked at a gas station. I breastfed in the backseat (thank God for privacy shades) while my husband took the dog out for a pee and a stroll. I need to supplement each feed with formula so we made enough bottles to last the entire trip. What we soon realized was that we should have packed soap to wash the nipples for the bottles, as we only have four that would need to be reused throughout the trip. We also forgot to pack bodywash for Junior in case he had a blowout of a poo during our trip. Off to Toys’R’Us so I could use their change table, buy the forgotten needed essentials and then get back on the road.
Everything we had read said it was best to travel at night. There will be minimal disruptions to their sleep schedule if they sleep through the night. This totally makes sense, except I like to sleep through the night too.
We drove through the night. Every time we stopped, I would feed the kidlet (boob & bottle) and then change his diaper while my husband would walk the dog. If we were lucky enough to stop somewhere that had a washroom with a change table, then I could change the babe inside. If not, I learned to master the diaper change in the backseat, amongst the dog bed, the infant car seat, and the cooler. My husband drove the first leg until about 1am and then I took over until about 4am. When you feel like you are the only car in a sea of tractor trailers and their tail lights look like they are starting to come together, you know it is time to pull over.
The best place to stop along the way is the Cracker Barrel. They open at 6am and close at 10pm (11pm on the weekends). Their washrooms are clean and they are the only establishment that I found (up and down the USA) to have a sturdy table that is specific to baby changing and that didn’t need to be pulled down. McDonald’s is a close second. Their change tables are almost always in the wheelchair accessible stall. Don’t even bother to stop at Krystal (they don’t have change tables) or White Castle (however, the later is based solely on my opinion of their hamburger). I digress.
We lengthened the time between his feedings and followed this routine every four hours. Each stop averaged about an hour and fifteen minutes. By the time we crossed the Florida border from Georgia, it was a struggle to put our little guy back in the car seat. He was wise to our schedule and would wiggle and scream as we tried to strap him back in. I felt bad but we were so close. We strapped him in the seat as quickly as we could and put the pedal to the medal so he would drift asleep to the rumbling of the tires hitting the road.
He was happy when we finally reached our destination, fifty-nine hours after it began (there was an overnighter in Nashville, complements of Santa), welcoming his grandmother with lots of stretching when we broke him free.
For the trip back, we decided to switch the routine up a bit. At the three hour mark I would pump in the car. Yes, I pumped. In public. I would pump and use that breastmilk at his next feeding, followed by formula that I heated up with the assistance of the car seat adaptor. The Warm’n’Go by Diono is a handy little device that actually works pretty good! When we pulled over, I had his food ready and fed him right away, then I would take him inside to change him, then pass him off to his dad so that I could go use the facilities myself. We managed to knock a half-hour off of our stop time. Woo hoo!
We planned two overnight stops on the way back and an afternoon visit with family so it took us three days to get home. Our little man seemed ok at the start of the journey but after a day, likely when he realized there was more to come, he started to fuss again when we tried to put him back in his car seat. Luckily for us, he would usually drift off by the time we merged onto the highway. Funny enough, he only had two meltdowns on the trip, the first was in Alabama (sorry to anyone that may have heard his screams), and the second a half-hour from home. At that point, I moved to the back to sit with him while the dog took over shotgun.
Did we survive? Yes!
Would I do it again with an infant? Not likely.
The frequent stops and having to change him, sometimes in the car, in the cold, and having to rinse bottles and wash nipples along the way made for a long, long, long trip. As did unpacking and repacking all the new essentials when we stopped overnight. Upon our return, it took about a week to get him back on schedule and I still swear to this day that his head is a little lopsided in the back from being in a car seat so long. At least he spent his first Christmas surrounded by palm trees to the delight of his grandparents, and had his first road trip with his new best friend by his side.
We woke up at Sasquatch Provincial Park to a beautiful morning and packed up early to hit the road. Instead of making breakfast we decided to head out and grab something in town en-route.
Before leaving Connie found a list of the best Ice Cream shops in Canada and one happened to be on our route to Victoria in Abbotsford BC. It was only 10 in the morning but stopping at the Birchwood Dairy seemed like a great idea. It’s a cool operating farm in the country that includes a petting zoo, antique tractors and a retail shop featuring dairy products, baked goods and of course ice cream.
One thing that we tried to do was pack light but when heading on a road trip with a baby and a dog it’s not simple task. We realized quickly that we had brought stuff we simply wouldn’t use. Before we left the country we decided to hit up the UPS store in Surrey and ship some stuff home. We had a great experience dealing with the owner of the store Jasbir Mehta who took the time to help us get packed up, if you need some shipping done hit these guys up.
We headed over to the catch the ferry to Victoria and learned that we should of made reservations. Our karma kicked in we were one of the last cars squeezed on, whew. The ferry ride is very scenic and we used the opportunity to have a late lunch in the restaurant, mmm lunch.
We headed straight for Goldstream Provincial Park to check in for the night. Given that it was a Friday we discovered that there was 1 spot left and it was slotted in with a group of folks that we didn’t feel would be ideal neighbors with a baby. We headed back to the gate and just as we were handed our refund a lady came to the gate declaring camping wasn’t for them and they were leaving early, we snapped up her spot which turned out to be one of the better ones at Goldstream. Karma!
Goldstream offered some great hiking so we loaded Archer up in the kid carrier back pack thing and went for a hike around the park. After our hike we did dinner and hit the hay. Well before that Connie did manage to get lost and ended being guided back to our site by some wine filled ladies.
As mentioned yesterday we ran into some problems with the Westfalia late in the day, it started making a disturbing creaking noise when going over bumps. We stayed at a hotel to regroup and get some internet access to find a shop. Luckly we found Axel’s Auto Service on Road Haus (Link) who opened at 8:30 am. With a call to them in the morning they said they would try and squeeze us in to assess the situation. So far we’re having good karma.
Well once on the highway things seemed to be OK as long as we stayed off the bumps. After a tense 40 minute drive we pulled into Axel’s and met Axel sitting at the counter. I’m starting to learn people in the VW business have unique personalities and Axel was no different, in a good way. Turns out we had lost a bolt in the sway arm that was causing the noise. Luckily they had a scrapped front end sitting around back and they scavenged the parts needed off of it instead of having to wait the weekend for a part to come in, Karma! We were back on the road within an hour and everything seems back to normal. They did mention my brakes seemed to need servicing but they couldn’t fit it in, that’s reassuring for the coastal drive ahead.
Since we were unsure of how long we would be in Kamloops we didn’t really make any plans but since we got back on the road so quickly (10am) we decided to head towards Hope BC and see how far we got.
Hope appeared sooner than we thought and we learned at the tourist information center that Rambo was filmed there, how awesome is that?
The nice folks at the tourist info centre recommended Sasquatch Provincial Park which was 30 minutes south. It’s one of those places that just when you think you’re lost and gone too far it’s right there. The park operates on a partial reservation system which means some sites are first come first serve and did we ever luck out. When the ranger came around and chatted with us he said of the 100+ sites we had scored the best one, Karma! Our spot was lakefront with a beautiful view out our bedroom window. Check my review of Sasquatch Provincial Park here.
After setting up our gear and converting the Westfalia for sleep we broke out the Primus camp stove and cooked up a Quinoa and Veggies recipe that Connie had found online. I was skeptical at first but it turned out to be very tasty and simple to make. We went for a walk along the water and let Archer play for a bit on the new playground that was close by. Bed time comes quickly when you’ve had a long day.
Here we go! After 2 days in beautiful Banff Alberta we are on the road to the coast, a few hours at a time. Since we’re traveling with 11 month old baby Archer we made the decision to keep drive time to 3 hours a day or less, we’ll see how that goes.
Today’s destination is Salmon Arm BC since it falls into this time slot and seemed like a nice place to visit. After a slow load up time (will improve with practice, I hope) we reluctantly left Banff in a great running Vanagon Westfalia.
We stopped at the Modern Cafe in Revelstoke BC for lunch and it turned out to be a delicious Decision. We also made a pitstop in Sicamous BC at the D. Dutchman Dairy for an ice-cream, this seemed to be a popular stop that had a line up out the door. We decided not to check out the barns and petting zoo and continued add of km’s instead.
On the road the scenery was beautiful as expected and the weather held up until late afternoon when we started to get rain. When Volkswagen designed the Vanagon Westfalia with a 90hp motor they must of been been drinking a few too many Marzen’s, this underpowered van does not like hills! Going this slow does cause a type of relaxation as the world drives by on the left. That said our Westy was running great until just past Salmon Arm (we decided to press on a bit) when something happened causing a noise like something had bounced up underneath the van. That caused us to give up on the day and pull into Chase BC and grab a room for the night.
After searching the Road Haus site again I discovered Axel’s Auto Service (no website) in Kamloops. The decision was made to limp the 60km’s to Kamloops in the morning so I left a voice mail on their answering machine to give them a heads up. Fingers crossed.
We checked into the Chase Country Inn which is a small 2 story hotel right beside the highway. It was basic, clean and showed a pride in ownership that was appreciated. A bonus was they had coin operated laundry and a restaurant so we got some washing done while having a bite to eat.